O’Henry Bars (& asking)

When did you realize your parents were humans?

For me, it was Christmas two years ago.

We had just finished eating dinner and my mom walked toward the kitchen making a comment about how “it’d be nice to have a little help cleaning up” as she wandered away, continuing to mutter.

“Mom,” I called. “If you want me to clean up, just ask! I can’t give you what you want if you don’t tell me what it is. Being passive aggressive isn’t going to help anything!” (Home for the holidays, amirite?)

She huffed. “Fine. Will you please do the dishes? I’m tired from cooking.”

Yes, I could do the dishes. Yes, I would do the dishes. And while doing them I thought about how I had found myself in my mom’s position a multitude of times. Wanting help, guidance, acknowledgement, but being unable or unwilling to ask for it.

So that’s where I had gotten it. From my mom. In addition to a multitude of positives – my sweet tooth, my determination, my penchant for sweatpants – I had gotten my tendency toward passive aggression from my mother.

Because she’s only human. As am I.

So, for the last two years I’ve made a conscious effort to be more straightforward, more upfront, ask for what I want. And so has my mom. No more muttering about dishes, no more wishing for people to read minds. It’s made a marked difference to both of us, I believe.

When it’s important, it’s easier to ask for things. Like my mom did years ago when she asked for the recipe to these O’Henry bars from the women in her hospital’s cafeteria. And like she did weeks ago when she made it very clear what she wanted for Mother’s Day. A shovel. Yes, I could get her one. Yes, I would get her one. Yes, I did get her one. All she had to do was ask.

O’Henry Bars (makes one 9×13 pan)

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 cups crispy rice cereal

1 – 12oz. bag butterscotch chips

6oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spray a 9×13 baking tray with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepot bring the sugar and corn syrup to a boil, heating until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Cool slightly before pouring over rice cereal. Using a rubber spatula coated in baking spray, stir to coat cereal and spread into prepared pan.

Meanwhile, in a medium microwave safe bowl, heat the butterscotch and chocolate chips together in thirty second intervals, stirring after each turn, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour over cereal bars and cool to room temperature. Do NOT refrigerate.

When bars are cool, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

*Recipe from the lovely ladies in my mother’s cafeteria at work.

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